All posts by skerryflower

Aladdin (2019)

The magic comes to life

Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen

Come on. Do you guys really need a synopsis of this plot? It’s Aladdin! Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the classics of the Disney Renaissance (now remade in live action as part of their current binge on their back catalogue) it’s also a staple of British pantomime since about…well…forever. You know the story.

You don’t?

Continue reading Aladdin (2019)

Pan (2015)


“Every legend has a beginning”

Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara and Amanda Seyfried

Before the story we know, there was another. The story of how Peter Pan came to Neverland, how he met Captain Hook, and how a friendship became an enmity which would change Neverland forever.
Continue reading Pan (2015)

Insurgent (2015)


“Defy Reality”


Directed by Robert Schwentke

Starring  Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet

Insurgent is the much awaited sequel to young adult dystopian novel, Divergent (which I think I also reviewed for the Bad Movie Marathon), and set in the same future world in which all of mankind is allegedly dead and the only survivor’s live hidden behind a giant wall in a partly bombed out Chicago, divided into one of five factions; clever Erudite; kind and peaceful Amity; compulsively honest Candour; selfless Abnegation; fearless Dauntless. Each faction is dominated by one particular personality trait and teens are sorted into their factions at the age of 16. If you don’t have enough personality, you become factionless scum. If you have multiple personality traits and could be part of more than one faction, you are Divergent and are super scary and likely to be hunted down. You also get magic powers.

Continue reading Insurgent (2015)

300 (2006)


“Prepare for glory”


Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West and David Wenham

In 480 BC a small Greek force, lead by 300 Spartans under King Leonidas, held off a far larger Persian force at Thermopylae for seven days, while getting off a variety of good lines while under pressure; when King Leonidas was told that the Persian archers were shooting arrows in such vast quantities that they were blotting out the sun, he allegedly replied ‘won’t it be nice that we have shade to fight in’. In the end they were nearly all killed, but their epic bravery was well recorded by the Greek historians, with accounts in both Plutarch and Herodotus.

Then, probably because Frank Miller loves nothing like he loves testosterone, it was made into a comic in 1998, only with added homophobia, but some very nice artwork. As is the way with Frank Miller.

After that, a film version was almost inevitable. The plot of the film is, by the way, basically, the same as the synopsis I gave of the battle of Thermopylae. It’s a bit like a very well oiled and slightly more homoerotic version of Herodotus.

What’s wrong with it?

OK. There is technically an awful lot wrong with 300. I mean, you start with the history (Spartan soldiers did actually wear more than leather speedos to fight in, King Xerxes of Persia probably wasn’t that into gold body paint, and I’m sure history would have remembered had he, or any classical ruler, actually had their own battle rhino), continue with the racism (brave Americans Greeks yell about democracy before slaughtering deformed foreigners who look like orcs but are apparently Persians), perhaps pause to examine the sexism (no matter how powerful or plot important a female character, it doesn’t mean she can’t be sexually abused at least once), and then amble on through the gratuitous violence, tripping over a plot hole every now and then (why did Theron take bribes in Persian gold he couldn’t spend? Unless there was a secret Spartan bureau de change somewhere…) before finally coming to rest, overwhelmed by the sheer macho nonsensicality of it all.

And yet…

What’s right with it?


…Leonidas would have loved it!

No, really. Every time I see this film I can’t help but imagine Leonidas sitting there, in the Elysian Fields, gleaming with pride. Every time he gets off a snappy line (and to be fair, if they were invented, they were invented by enthusiastic ancient Greeks, not enthusiastic Hollywood script writers) I can see him nodding smugly. Every time his enemies flinch, he probably flexes some undead muscles and I am totally and utterly convinced that if you were to show him this film and ask him about the battle rhino he would swear blind that he killed that thing with his own two hands and if you doubted him, well, you weren’t there, man.

In general, one of the hardest things about historical drama is that we, as a society, are not very good at empathizing with people who’s basic understanding of the world and who’s concept of right and wrong was very different to ours. We find it especially hard when it comes to popcorn flicks, where we don’t want to see women who couldn’t leave the house unaccompanied or cheer for heroes who believed absolutely in the divine right of kings, so most film makers tend to end up making their historical heroines feisty and their heroes pro-democracy, and everyone learns to believe in themselves until it’s all OK in the end. But 300 actually doesn’t do that. OK, so I’m not saying Dick Cheney’s fantasy life doesn’t look like this too (well, maybe not quite as many heavily oiled and scantily clad young men, although I don’t want to judge) but I am also pretty certain that this is closer in spirit to the Spartan perspective than any earnest young man with plumes on his helmet, questioning whether the helots really needed to be kept as slaves, before facing a number of conflicted and three dimensional Persian enemies would have been.

Also, Frank Miller’s idea on history is way more like Herodotus than Eric Hobsbawm. I bet Herodotus would have thrown in a battle rhino.

How bad is it really?

I think it depends what you’re looking for. If you want a history lesson, it’s bad. If you want a subtle nuanced portrayal of real men torn apart by the horrors of war, it’s bloody awful. If you object to sexual violence, racism, orientalism, or just strangely narrow cliffs which soldiers have to be pushed off one at a time in dramatic profile, you probably should avoid it.

If, on the other hand, you have a soft spot for Frank Miller style cinematography and can swallow a lot of testosterone with your popcorn, it’s an awful lot of fun and probably the least apologetic depiction of Greek warriors doing appropriately obnoxious yet spectacularly Greek warrior-y things you’ll find outside of the strangely detailed imaginings of a certain kind of classics student.

Best bit (if such there is)?


Ooooh….so many quotables, so little time. Do I start with the Persian Ambassador famously being kicked down a well (“This. Is. Sparta!” shouts a strangely Glaswegian Leonidas)? Perhaps Queen Gorgo snarking that “only Spartan women give birth to real men” (another historical quote)? And of course there’s the famous “we will fight in the shade” line.

Plus no matter what you think of Frank Miller’s politics, man, he makes pretty comics, which pretty much gets used as the storyboard for the film. It’s visually stunning.

What’s up with…? 


  • So, the traitor Theron sells out Sparta to the Persians for gold, which he conveniently keeps about his person in easy to recognize gold coins, nicely stamped with Xerxes very recognizable face? Why? And also, where? He’s wearing a blanket for most of the film. Man must have had amazing muscle control.
  • I understand that the Spartans were body fascists extraordinaire, but did Leonidas have to kick the earnest little hunchback, Ephialtes, to the kerb quite so firmly? Couldn’t he have given him a bag to carry or something? Or just killed him if he must? Him running off to Xerxes in a fit of pique did seem rather inevitable.
  • I get that battle rhinos improve almost any given story, but could maybe some of Xerxes exciting shock troops (which include Africans, Indians with elephants, and the oft mentioned rhino) have maybe come from the actual Persian Empire?
  • What happened to all the other Greek forces at Thermopylae? According to Herodotus the total number of troops opposing the Persians numbered in the thousands (still massively outnumbered by the Persians who modern historians estimate as being in the tens of thousands) and included troops from Thebes, Arcadia and Corinth amongst others. Did they just…stay home?


Production values: Whatever 300’s faults, it’s a very very pretty film and beautifully put together. 4
Dialogue and performances:  I might be being harsh here. There’s not really much for the cast to work with here, and they actually do pretty well with what they’ve got. Gerard Butler is consistently macho and stern. Lena Headey is scornful and imperious. Dominic West oozes whenever he comes on screen (seriously, Sparta, how did you not notice he was evil for so long?) and whoever is played Xerxes is…convincingly pierced. It just isn’t really a film you can perform in. 10
Plot and execution:  I mean, there isn’t a lot of plot to cram in, really. There is a Persian army. They go to war. There are some oracles and a bit of politics along the way, but really, how can you mess up a bunch of dudes stabbing each other with spears now? 8
Randomness: And that was mostly because the film occasionally just throws something totally insane from left field in. 12
Waste of potential: 300 is exactly what it says it is going to be from beginning to end. Madness? No! SPARTA! 2

Overall 36%

Maleficent (2014)


“Discover the story you never knew”

Directed by Robert Stromberg
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

The basic conceit of this film is that this is the true story of Maleficent, the notorious villainess of the Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty. Rather than just a wicked fairy, in this version Maleficent is the noble protector of a land of fairies who was betrayed and her wings ripped from her by her childhood sweetheart and ambitious young man on the rise, the future King Stefan, and so she turns to revenge, cursing his daughter Aurora in the well known way. Unsurprisingly, she then becomes fond of the girl as she watches over her from afar throughout her life and it all turns into a journey of redemption for Maleficent as she tries to save Aurora whilst also dealing with a vengeful King Stefan.

What’s wrong with it?

Maleficent is Disney’s attempt to remake ‘Wicked’, which retold the story of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West and did it with a great deal of success. It tries to do this by recasting Angelina Jolie as an Elphaba alike, adding in a lot of pretty scenery and CGI, making King Stefan a villain we can actually despise (he has fewer redeeming features than Maleficent had in the original) and giving Maleficent a tragic backstory, a fantastic wardrobe, a raven shapeshifter sidekick (the highlight of the film) some snarky dialogue and throwing in a ‘twist’ at the end whereby (SPOILER ALERT) it is Maleficent’s maternal true love’s kiss that saves Aurora and not Prince Philip.

The trouble with it is that it does absolutely nothing which hasn’t already been done before. It’s like the script writers sat down and said “what do we really like? Well, Wicked was awesome. And Frozen has made more money than god, so we really should work that into the mix. Oh, and what’s that Disney show that has a fan base more rabid that an extra from the Plague Dogs? ‘Once Upon A Time’? On it!

It takes all these elements, mixes them together, and then, painfully, fails to do anything new or original, or even that interesting with any of them. Furthermore, it’s so in love with its eponymous heroine that it absolutely and painfully fails to give any dignity, motivation or redeeming features to almost anyone who isn’t her. King Stefan is mindlessly evil and probably kicks kittens when he gets up in the morning. The three ‘good fairies’ who are trying to protect Aurora are petty squabbling imbeciles who would have let the baby die through sheer incompetence if Maleficent wasn’t around to save her. Aurora is a perky little dimwit with very wide eyes, who I personally had a soft spot for, but I think that was sheer perversity on my part. The dialogue is hackneyed, the plot predictable and Disney’s determination to make this a safe PG rating removes any kind of risk from the proceedings which makes the whole thing even less of a rollercoaster ride.

It’s like sitting on the teacup ride at Alton Towers. It’s OK, but it’s kind of dumb and it’s frustrating looking around you and knowing that two blocks over there is something that is just so much more.

What’s right with it?

Honestly, it’s a very very pretty film. The director, Robert Stromberg, was the art director on Avatar and Oz the Great and Powerful although this is his directorial debut and it really shows. He does beautiful things with the lighting and scenery and the fairy world is a delight to observe.

I also had a soft spot for the perky Princess Aurora, with Elle Fanning absolutely playing it straight as a classic wide eyed Disney Princess. However, my personal high point of the film and its major redeeming feature was definitely Sam Riley as Diaval – a raven shapeshifter and Maleficent’s confidant. Their snarky banter brightens up the film whenever they come in together, and their relationship feels like by far the most genuine, warm, complex and nuanced thing in the film.

How bad is it really?

It isn’t really bad, per se. It’s just an incredible waste of potential and it suffers hugely from having come out in the aftermath of a number of vastly better re-imaginings of fairytale villainesses. Angelina Jolie is alright, but she’s not Regina of Once Upon A Time, no Elphaba of Wicked, and definitely no Elsa of Frozen, who’s redemption through familial true love is a comparison which lies heavy on this movie.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Almost every single scene featuring Maleficent and Diaval, particularly the many scenes where she transforms him into something else, mostly because of the subtle visual touches that Robert Stromberg leaves to show his raven heritage – a wolf with a ruff with a feathery touch, for example. The combat at the end with Maleficent in full Angelina Jolie ass kicking form, and Diaval as a dragon is also pretty awesome, and I rather liked the early scenes with a young Maleficent and a young Stefan exploring the land of the fairies

What’s up with…?

  • Why does Angelina Jolie change costume halfway through the final scene? She walks in in long black robes (a la the traditional Maleficent look), gets cornered, and suddenly she’s in a leather catsuit.
  • Why does it take King Stefan so long to bring the cold iron out? He finds out as a small boy that cold iron is anathema to the fae, and then despite waging war against them for decades afterwards he doesn’t drag out the cold iron until the final scene where he’s going one on one with Maleficent.
  • How do Maleficent’s wings stay alive, flapping, and ready to reattach to her for sixteen years? Are her wings some kind of weird symbiot being? And if they are so self willed, how did King Stefan get them back to the castle and the old king to claim his throne (the old king promised his throne to whoever could defeat the winged fairy) in the first place? Why didn’t they fly back to her then?


Production values – I can’t fault it here. Maleficent is beautifully made and lights up the screen from start to finish. 2.
Dialogue and performances –  Hrm. Massively variable. Sharlto Copley and Elle Fanning give one tone performances, but I think they were asked to. Sam Riley and Angelina Jolie do a bit better, but they can’t quite carry the film and the dialogue they all have to work with never rises above ‘hackneyed’. 12.
Plot and execution – It’s a reasonable plot, because they nicked it from a number of far better films. The execution, however, is disappointing. 11
Randomness – It isn’t entirely nonsensical but some decent character motivation would have been nice. 8
Waste of potential – Now, this is where Maleficent makes all its points back. The original Disney film is a classic. The original Disney villainess was superb. The world is ready for fairy tale re-imaginings right now, and it had a fan base waiting to love it, and sadly, it threw it all away. 15.

Overall 48%


Pompeii (2014)


No warning. No escape.

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring Kit Harrington, Emily Browning

In 79 A.D, Mount Vesuvius erupted, completely destroying the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. This particular film follows the story of Milo, a British slave-turned-gladiator in the doomed city as he fights to save his life and that of his love, Cassia, and avenge his family, while all around him Pompeii is destroyed.

Other characters include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje from Lost as an African gladiator called Atticus fighting his last match to win his freedom, and Jared Harris as the heroine’s father, Severus, who is trying to get Kiefer Sutherland’s senator, Corvus, to invest in Pompeii.

What’s wrong with it?

Now, first of all, I have to admit that I found this film hysterically funny and am struggling to really condemn it with any kind of vigor.

OK, so I could probably write an essay on what’s wrong with the history in it – wouldn’t a top ranked gladiator be a bit of a local celebrity instead of being locked in a dingy dungeon? Why would his master want to kill him off? Didn’t quite a lot of gladiators win their freedom, and then move into managing or training other gladiators, or even go on fighting because they made good money in it? Didn’t Mount Vesuvius actually take over 24 hours to erupt properly, meaning that around 90% of the population were able to get out of town? And who the hell are ‘the horse tribes of Britannia’ that our hero gladiator comes from anyway?

I acknowledge, as well, that I could follow that up with a second essay on the horror that is the acting, from Kiefer Sutherland’s horrific accent which makes him sound alarmingly like an evil Kenneth Williams, to the bizarrely unconvincing romance between the leads (has anyone ever really won a girl’s heart by breaking a horse’s neck? Really?) and follow up with the absolute lack of any coherent character motivation throughout the film. I don’t know about you, but if I was in a town that had fireballs falling on it, I’d be a little less concerned about the future of my luxury resort, getting revenge on the slave who has been eyeing up my woman, or stabbing the man who killed my family and a lot more focused on getting away. I also think Kit Harrington should maybe have been allowed to use the three or four expressions he uses to play Jon Snow, instead of a single brooding scowl under all circumstances, but maybe he charges per expression and Paul W.S. Anderson had already blown his budget on volcanoes.

Anyway, all of those things are problems. I should condemn this film for all of this. Then I realise I’ve just burst out laughing just thinking about all of these faults and haven’t really the heart to.

What’s right with it?

Well, there’s a lot of very pretty scenery. While Paul W.S. Anderson might have messed up on a lot of the history, he apparently worked remarkably hard to put together a near exact replica of Pompeii and his set comes with glowing endorsements from archaeologists who have worked on the site. The volcano is very impressive, as is the tsunami (although the real tsunami which swept Pompeii wasn’t quite as dramatic apparently).

How bad is it really?     

It very much depends on your taste. If you want a serious, well researched film about people in a desperate situation, which leaves you feeling like you’ve really learned something today, stay at home. If, on the other hand, you want a piece of gloriously high camp tripe with Kiefer Sutherland chewing up the scenery and lines you could practically chant along to (he actually says “kill them! Kill them all!) then I can’t recommend this film highly enough.

Best bit (if such there is)?

I asked the person I went to see this film with, and he said “the credits. The blessed light opening in the doorway. That moment where I realised I had escaped back into life and sanity”. Personally, I’d go for almost any moment the volcano is on screen. I quite liked the gladiators being sent out to die and slaughtering their opponents instead, even if that scene was ripped wholesale from Gladiator.

What’s up with…?

  • Our hero enters the Londinium arena. A watching Roman says “this one is known as…the Celt”. Isn’t that a rather redundant nickname in Roman Britain? Aren’t they all known as ‘a Celt’?
  • Why exactly does the gladiator’s trainer decide to kill off his star gladiator, Atticus, in an early bout? What is in it for him, other than the chance to be randomly villainous?
  • What on earth were Cassia’s parents doing sending their daughter off to Rome for a year with no one except a random handmaiden for company? Surely a chaperone would be in order, especially considering her slightly alarming tendency to fall in love with random horse killing slaves.
  • Why was Corvus so desperate to marry Cassia when she blatantly loathed him? Couldn’t a Roman senator and war hero have found an equally attractive woman who wasn’t quite so ready to betray him?
  • I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the ‘rebellion of the horse tribes’? Who were the horse tribes? The Iceni, perhaps? This is left frustratingly vague.
  • Since when did the Britons have magic horse whispering powers? I feel cheated!


Production values – It looks pretty. No matter what else is wrong with it, it’s amazingly nice to look at. 5
Dialogue and performances – I am in awe of how bad this is. Not a single line came out which wasn’t cliché. At no point did any of the characters stray from their primary expression. And Kiefer Sutherland sounded like an evil Kenneth Williams! 15
Plot and execution – It’s pretty damn bad. 12
Randomness – Kit Harrington wins his lady love, by killing a horse. 8
Waste of potential – I mostly say this because I read after seeing this film that Robert Harris’ Pompeii was optioned with the intention of making it into a film directed by Roman Polanski, but that fell apart and this got made instead. 15

Overall 55%

Divergent (2014)


“What Makes You Different Makes You Dangerous

Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, and Kate Winslet.

Set in a dystopian future where some kind of unspecified calamity has wiped out civilisation as we know it, the few survivors huddle together in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, divided into five factions – the kindly Amity, the honest Candor, the knowledgeable Erudite, the fearless Dauntless and the selfless Abnegation. Beatrice, our heroine, is born into Abnegation, the faction who look after people, rule the city (because they think of others) and feed the factionless, who are the people who ‘don’t fit in anywhere’.

When you’re sixteen you are put through a kind of serum induced dream aptitude test, which tell you which faction you belong to, based on your personality, although apparently 95% of those who take the tests stay in their birth factions. And then once you’ve taken the test, you can make an informed decision at the big public ceremony where you chose your faction, move into their part of town, and adopt a nifty new colour coded outfit for the rest of your life.

Beatrice takes these tests with a Dauntless woman, Maggie Q, only to be woken by an upset proctor who kicks her out and tells her to never speak of this again. Apparently her test results suggest that she has more than one personality trait, and as such is ‘Divergent’ and liable to be executed if caught, because she ‘can’t be controlled’. Nevertheless, Beatrice turns up to the choosing ceremony the next day, picks the black clad, tattooed and pierced Dauntless, and goes off to learn to be one of the city’s warriors, renaming herself ‘Tris’ in the process. Meanwhile, the blue suited power dressers in Erudite are plotting to overthrow the city’s government. Will Tris save the day?

What’s wrong with it?

So, let’s start at the beginning. Tris, our heroine, appears to be magically and amazingly super special due to her magic power of having more than one personality trait. Yes. That’s all it takes in this world. Everyone else is a two dimensional cardboard cutout, but Tris is different (allegedly) because she can be more. There’s very little evidence of this, admittedly, and she comes across as being about as bland as every other Young Adult heroine out there but the script tells me firmly that she’s different and so I shall try and believe it. I shall also try and get my head around the notion that no one else has any more than a single personality trait, despite the fact that other characters regularly display a (limited) combination of traits. Tris can also, apparently, control the weird serum hallucinations she kepts getting put into which is also a side effect of being divergent so I’ll accept that as a super power.

Tris’ time in Dauntless is OK, in an entirely generic way – heroine is trained by strong brooding hero, who maintains a single constipated frown at all times to indicate hidden depths and sometimes twitches his eyebrows together a bit more when he’s getting emotional. She starts off getting beaten up but through guts, willpower, and the support of her sassy PoC friend, learns how to throw knives, shoot guns, and even captures the flag in a battle game with an ending which made me wonder if the director was a fan of Disney classic, Mulan.

The conspiracy to overthrow the government makes vague sense – as far as I can tell, Evil Kate Winslet mostly felt thwarted in her desire to rule the world so decided to brainwash a fifth of the population to kill another fifth of the population. Which I guess is reasonable if you’re a psychotic megalomaniac who probably drowns kittens in her spare time which is pretty much all the character that the script gives Kate Winslet. And, to do her credit, she really does run with it; Kate Winslet manages to pretty much add barely contained psychosis into the sentence ‘are you alright?’

The final outburst of violence progresses in a bizarrely slow motion fashion – I understood why Evil Kate Winslet wanted the brainwashed Dauntless to round up the Abnegation and shoot them all in a shocking dawn raid. What I didn’t understand was why having rounded them up, she insisted that the Dauntless spend half an hour lining them up against a wall and pointing guns menacingly at them while she faffs around getting back to her lab, thus allowing the good guys to regroup and come after her, and why she insists on a slow countdown to execute o’clock even as the good guys charge the lab is totally beyond me.

What’s right with it?

To be fair, it’s reasonably inoffensive. It’s a comfortable Young Adult dystopian action flick which ticks all the boxes of the genre, and has a generically positive message about how being different makes you strong. Visually, it’s quite pretty; I liked the image of a post-Apocalyptic Chicago, with the wind turbines on every tall building, and the massive walls around it.

How bad is it really?

It isn’t offensively bland – it’s just very very generic. It’s a Young Adult dystopia by numbers which painstakingly ticks every box going without ever coming up with anything terribly new. Spunky young heroine who’s family don’t understand her? Check! Chisel jawed and slightly intimidating hero who turns out to fancy the heroine all the time? Check! Vaguely defined powers to emphasize how special the heroine is? Check! I could go on, but it would take some time.

The acting is mediocre at best (although I do want to make special note of Kate Winslet who looks like someone told her she was playing in the Nag End Community Theatre annual panto, and clearly had an eye out for any stray Dalmatians she might find wandering the streets) and the story never ceases to follow the exact path you could have predicted from the first opening scene. The world itself is a thinly sketched post-Apocalyptic Hogwarts which actually embraces the universally acknowledged fact that Slytherin are actually the cool kids, and instead makes Ravenclaw the villains of the piece, and lets them kick the crap out of Hufflepuff.

I understand that the original book was written as a university project while Veronica Roth was studying for a degree in creative writing at Northwestern University and I can certainly see that. It looks like it was following a text book showing you ‘how to’.

Best bit (if such there is)?

I quite liked the combat mother appearing out of nowhere with a gun in hand to rescue her daughter, and revealing the fact that she’d been raised in Dauntless, but had chosen to leave to become Abnegation, a choice which immediately made her the most interesting character in the film as far as I was concerned.

What’s up with…?

  • Tris’s mother explaining to her that Abnegation can only look in the mirror for a few minutes every day to discourage vanity, while Tris stands there with a full face of makeup and fresh highlights in her hair. God alone knows how that worked.
  • Four’s tattoo. How did no one notice he was Divergent when he had an elaborate back tattoo showing all five factions because he identified with all of them? Was that not a give away? Did the artist at least not ask questions?
  • The entire city infrastructure. As far as I can tell, there are only five jobs in the city – soldier/policeman, academic, farmer, charity worker/politician, and lawyer/honest person. How does a society function on that? Who keeps the roads mended, or the generators going? Who does the admin? And where are the accountants? Is there even an economy? Is this a communist Utopia? The film is frustratingly vague.
  • The Factionless. The Dauntless training system, in particular, seems designed to turn the majority of its recruits into Factionless, who, as far as I can tell, just hang around looking depressed from then on in waiting to be fed by Abnegation. How does this not lead to social unrest if you’ve created an aimless and disenfranchised underclass which significantly outnumber the police and army?
  • The rest of the world. Is there no one there? Why is everyone having to hide inside the city walls? There is no sign of there being any actual danger, and no mention of the calamity which destroyed the rest of civilisation.
  • What do Dauntless actually do? I mean, apart from run around, climb high buildings and train. Do they exist just to keep the Factionless in check? There is no other obvious possible threat to this otherwise tightly controlled society and no obvious external threat, so they end up coming across as either a totalitarian police force or basically waster teenagers with an extreme sports fixation. Which seems like an awful drain on the economy.


Production values – It’s actually quite nicely put together and some of the visuals are pretty good. 5
 Dialogue and performances – The dialogue could have come out of a generator. 12
Plot and execution – Not awful but very very predictable. 11
Randomness – It rarely comes too far from left field. 3
Waste of potential – It was never really going be very much more. 8

Overall 39%